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the_deli_magazine

Where Is My Mind?: Mannequin Pussy

By: Q.D. Tran

May 26, 2017

Childhood pals Marisa Dabice and Thanasi Paul formed Mannequin Pussy during their time in New York City. The group went through multiple configurations before bringing in Kaleen Read to take over drumming duties and solidifying their sound with the addition of Colins Regisford (a.k.a. Bear) on bass. The congruous, musical union inspired the band to return to the studio and record the follow-up to its debut LP Gypsy Pervert. Mannequin Pussy had already been building a reputation in the punk/DIY music community as a must-see on billings, and with the release of 2016’s Romantic, they began to garner deserved national/international critical acclaim, which eventually brought them top honors in The Deli Philly’s Annual Best Emerging Artist(s) Poll.

 

Now, the quartet is all set to embark on their first European tour this weekend, and we had a chance to connect with Dabice before the start of this exciting, momentous occasion to talk about her and the band’s past, present, and future. It was a truly enjoyable exchange with the thoughtful Mannequin Pussy frontwoman, which you can read below.

 

 

The Deli: What’s your first memory related to music?

 

Marisa Dabice: I’m lucky to have grown up in a household that really celebrated music and the arts; my grandpa owned a record store in Baltimore, and I think that had a big influence on my mom's relationship to music. There was always music playing in our house; my mom was also a Disco DJ in her youth so I like to think she kind of DJ’ed my life growing up. 

 

TD: What or who inspired you to pick up an instrument and start playing?

 

MD: My friend Colleen! She asked me to go on tour to play bass with her, and it was one of those "say yes and figure it out later" situations. I had always wanted to play, but paralyzing fear had always gotten in the way until she inspired me to just go for it. 

 

TD: How did you move on to playing guitar and writing your own songs?

 

MD: That tour with Colleen gave me the confidence that I could do it. I had a lot of ideas, and I was ready to start making music. Once I started playing, the songs just started coming out; it coincided with a particularly heavy time in my history so it was the only relief I had. 

 

TD: You mentioned that with Romantic, you “attempted to unpack all the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) into one album.” What topics do the next batch of songs that you are working on seem to be tackling?

 

MD: We’re about halfway or more into the next album, but it seems a bit early to tell. So far the songs seem to swing across a larger pendulum. We focus more on the music and instrumentals, and then I go and tackle it with the pen and lyrics.

 

TD: Do you find time on the road to write new material, or do you generally like to wait to be at home to do it?

 

MD: I'm a huge fan of the iPhone voice memo; I don’t feel like there is any time while touring to be actively working on new music, but it’s impossible to not think of melody or song ideas - since those things have a way of just floating into your headspace without warning. I record ideas, and then once I’m home, open them back up to figure out arrangements. 

 

TD: You bought your first tour van last year. How’s it treating you, and what did you name it?

 

MD: It's been great. It's only broken down on us three times, which I think lead to us naming it Phoenix because she has arisen from the ashes multiple times. However, we’ve already outgrown our van, and it’s time to sell her and move on to something bigger. 

 

TD: You are starting to spend more time on the road and even have plans to tour abroad with a stop at Primavera Sound. What do you enjoy most about being on tour, and what about tour causes you the most anxiety?

 

MD: I pretty much only enjoy the half an hour where we are actually playing music; everything else causes me a bit of strife and anxiety, but in our band, I’m in the minority when it comes to feeling that way. Everyone else seems to exist more comfortably on the road than I do. I’m boring. I prefer to be home; I'm very domestically minded. Cooking for myself, working on music, being with my boyfriend, having my bed and my comforts…. those things are more important to me, but unfortunately, all of that needs to be put on hold because touring is such an intrinsic part of the “album cycle”. For the first time in a long time though, I feel excited about a tour because we’re going to Europe for the first time; this will be an entirely new adventure. 

 

TD: Have you personally ever traveled abroad before? If so, where, and what was that experience like?

 

MD: It’s been over 10 years since I left the country. Last time I was abroad, Bush was President, and now it's Trump; I never got that Obama grace period. When people would find out I was American, they always asked the same questions: “Do you own a gun, did you vote for Bush and Obama or Hillary?” That was a decade ago! I’m sure it’s gonna be a similar experience politically. Europeans seem to be more interested in our politics than most people who actually live in this country. 

 

TD: With so much going on in politics and the world in general, do you prefer to tune in or tune out these days? How do you do so?

 

MD: It’s a balancing act. It’s irresponsible to tune out everything, but at what cost to yourself do you allow everything into your mental space? I studied political science in school so I don’t think there will ever be a time in my life where I am able to tune everything out. That’s not in my nature; I continue my studies, keep my eye and my ear to the political world, and find small but meaningful ways to revolt and resist. In the years to come, I think a lot is going to change, and not necessarily for the better; tuning out is a white flag that I’m not ever going to wave. 

 

TD: People always describe Philly as a place that keeps things “real”. What do you think is the “realest” thing about the city?

 

MD: I really don't know how to answer this question. 

 

TD: What’s the strangest thing that you have ever experienced in Philly?

 

MD: I don't think Philly is necessarily strange at least not stranger than anywhere else. That said, it always makes me happy to see the urban cowboys riding their horses down the street. I love it here; I'm lucky to call this place home. 

 

TD: Where is your favorite place to play in town, and why?

 

MD: Everybody Hits in North Philly - because Dave is the best.